It was Lockdown 4.0 now.
After three (in his own very humble opinion on reddit) politically unsuccessful other lockdowns, Tarquin finally decided to try out this online learning caper he kept hearing about.
He’d learned to switch off his Google Classroom notifications back on the first day of Year 1, and now, twelve years later, he was finally being seriously expected to “read the notice on Classroom”, and as much as it ground his gears, he could see his whole final year at school going down the proverbial long-drop with this Covid thing, and needing to at least engage on some level from the comfort of his gaming chair.
It was time to stop being so anti-establishment and start joining in.
His first piece of lockdown work looked pretty straight-forward at first. It was a Classics critical paragraph on why Aeneas did the right thing in essentially ditching Dido at Carthage in order to go forth and found Rome.
I mean, duh, said Tarquin in the class Zoom. Like, that’s his whole purpose, right? And he got distracted by this woman, and really, she doesn’t fit the plan, so he did the right thing in the end.
His teacher, who had been educated in Cambridge (Waikato, not England) leaned forward. Sir had a virtual background of the remains of an ancient scone recipe from Syracuse, and his cat, Ptolemy, crawled inconveniently over the keyboard, much to the delight of students.
And what would you do, Tarquin. You’re deeply infatuated, some would even say in love with this woman. You live and breathe her.
Tarquin scoffed. He was tempted to unmute himself again and ask where in the achievement for excellence criteria it said that he had to talk about feelings. In fact he now felt disadvantaged for not having any feelings as such. If only he’d just taken Maths With Calculus!
The point is, Sir, that Dido knew what she was signing up for. A man on a mission who was only ever there temporarily and one could argue, by accident. If you want to go with the “Juno set him off course to delay the founding of Rome” narrative, then that’s another story. Fate is fixed, Sir.
Sir was impressed with Tarquin’s apparent discovery of these Homeric-Augustan codes of behaviour, and admired his virtual background of a huge poo emoji.
Lucretia, who’d recently been dropped by Duncan, head boy at St Arrogance, felt sufficiently qualified to jump in:
It really is a question for the ages Tarquin: love as duty or love as the natural expansion of human existence and desire. Love as pure passion, unbridled lust, but also respect and awe at another person even just being alive and on the planet, even just that the person said hello to you once, let alone wants to be in your personal space 24/7.
Tarquin was unmoved by Lucretia’s emotive stance but was slightly moved by her beautiful eyes. And her virtual background, which was ‘ironic’ Spyro The Dragon. It was all about what was right. I mean, it sucked to be Dido for sure, but whatever.
Tarquin typed out what he hoped would be an Excellence piece. We’ll never truly know what Tarquin wrote that day, but since his tongue was slightly out while he wrote it we know he could at least get an excellence for effort.
Over on his chat window, a message popped up. It was Lucretia from classics, wanting to know which angle he’d taken
You’re being very stoic, Tarquin.
Maybe he was. But that’s just the way it was and in fact, much as Dido was left pining for Aeneas, it was all just too bad really.
Tarquin stretched and yawned while polishing his Greek theatre masks Dad had brought back from a business trip to Athens two years ago. He booted up his Fields of Mass Destruction co-operative online game and felt at once confused and pensive.
Feelings were best avoided, he thought, as he donned his new Astro A50 Wireless 7.1 Channel Gaming Headset, and began obliterating anything that moved, human or otherwise.
Next time: Will Tarquin get his head out of his arse and contact Lucretia to talk about feelings? Or will he not.